Local Press: How the UAE became a cultural crossroads

ABU DHABI: A local newspaper has pointed out the UAE’s unique approach to fostering dialogue and engagement. While the country serves as a host for events defined by formalitylike the 13th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference (WTO MC13), it also welcomes gatherings that address a wider range of topics.

In this regard, The National’s editorial on Friday noted that the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi and Art Dubai are two in-depth explorations that embed art and culture in the kind of contemporary issues often thrashed out at international summits. For example, Art Dubai, which will open to the public today, is not only displaying works from more than 120 galleries across the world; it is using its well-established place on the international art scene to provide a space for a diverse range of voices from the Global South.

Art Dubai’s Bawwaba section – “gateway” in Arabic – will have 10 solo presentations that feature artworks created in Brazil, Guatemala and Mozambique, among other countries, over the pas
t year.

Themes of ideology, polarisation and artistic independence will be explored in Art Dubai’s Modern section, where regional artists’ relationship in the Cold War rivalry between East and West will be examined. The lessons drawn from that time of division are relevant to today’s world.

Elsewhere in the UAE, Culture Summit Abu Dhabi – which will run in the capital’s Manarat Al Saadiyat arts venue from Sunday to Tuesday – is a unique convening of practitioners and cultural leaders. This year’s collection of discussions and performances carry the theme of A Matter of Time, which organisers say will embrace a “new cultural time, one that is realigned with the rhythm of human awareness and nature”.

The editorial added, “This is not as esoteric as it may seem at first glance. Our sense of time has indeed been radically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, a shared experience arising from nature that effectively put much of human society into a two-year hiatus. The rapid and continuing development of our digita
l age is also redefining our conception of communication, deadlines, working hours and commerce. Exploring the relationship of art and culture to these critical phenomena gives the Abu Dhabi summit a particular urgency.”

Thought leaders from the arts, heritage, film, music and public policy will use Culture Summit Abu Dhabi also to connect and discuss more unconventional subjects, such as the big screen evolution of Batman, linking popular culture to more highbrow ideas and scrutiny.

As with Art Dubai, the range of voices at the summit will be diverse and will include such figures as Syrian poet Adonis, British choreographer Wayne McGregor, Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka and American visual artist Sarah Morris.

“Events like Art Dubai and Culture Summit Abu Dhabi thrive in a location such as the UAE, which has emerged as an important international crossroads not only for business, diplomacy and innovation but as a meeting place for creativity and culture. The diverse nature of the Emirates
‘ society makes this coming together of art and ideas an organic process that will continue long after this week’s cultural summits are over,” concluded the Abu Dhabi-based daily.

Source: Emirates News Agency